What’s My Motivation Here?


What motivates pioneers within the changing legal scene?

I was talking to one innovative practitioner in a different field yesterday about what motivated him to pursue change within his industry. His response was brutally frank.

“I am p***ed off with how we are perceived.”

Why do pioneers rock the boat and embrace what are termed as “Destructive technologies”? Are they not talking themselves out of their jobs?

I was also reading a post about law firms using wikis from smallfirmsuccess.

Internal Motivations

I suspect that that pioneers experience both internal and external motivations.

The internal can broken down to push me/pull me motivations. disatisfaction for example could push someone onwards. Ambition, to be a Godin type leader, for example, would pull them along.

Motivations might be sensory, or things we feel, such as those highlighted above. In my own experience I feel curiosity above all else – “How else could we do this and what would the benefits be?

Internal motivations might also derive from personality typing. For example, consider the Belbin Team model and types suggesting that we fall into certain roles within teams. Those roles are

[hmmm, how do I bullet point in WordPress?]

1. Implementer
2. Shaper
3. Completer/Finisher
4. Plant
5. Evaluator
6. Specialist
7. Co-ordinator
8. Team worker
and 9. Investigator.

You can read more on Wikipedia and Belbin here.

If we skip over to another different discipline – Occupational Therapy – we find a very advanced discourse on the nature of Professional reasoning. In Clinical and Professional Reasoning there is an argument that therapist’s “Reasoning processes have been linked to their assumptions about an essence of human experience as a well as assumptions about the body.”

That suggestion applies equally well to lawyers. Our professional reasoning processes can be linked to our assumptions about an essence of human experience as well as assumptions about the law.

For example, if I entered into law, family law in my case, with a view to helping, serving, creating solutions, then that will colour my approach.

If I entered in the sense of needing to win at all costs, then that gives me a different approach and different behaviours.

In the former example, the demise of public funding may well cause me anxiety about access to justice and lead me to look at alternative professional service delivery systems to open up access.

If I am driven by the notion of play and playing, then maybe change is the grown up equivalent of creative play. Can I legitimatise exploration, building, creating alternative scenarios with a business objective?

External Motivations

We have plenty of external motivations to change. The market, Legal Services Act, new service providers, new models of communication and access to information.

The starkest example of external motivation at the moment is redundancy. How will those professionals who have been let go react? Will they rush to find similar harbours to those from which they have come or will they feel resentment and disillusionment with those old models?

My earlier article Redundant Lawyers, Mavericks and Positive Deviants ponders on what would happen if creative sorts find themselves unfettered by conventional practices and group together? Here we may well see the culmination of their internal creative bents being pushed forward by external motivations such as redundancy.

Our competitors within a marketplace provide other external motivation – everyone else is doing it, so should we, or perhaps a market driven need to distinguish ourselves from our competitors.

I suspect this motivation can be problematic. If we adopt new tech just because everyone else is doing it, but do not believe in its utility or merit, then such initiatives are going to fail.

Outward Motivation
Having considered what might motivate practitioners to seek change, the next question would have to be “How do we motivate others to follow the lead or get on board?”

This challenge is ably highlighted from the opening article from smallfirmsuccess;

“The problem with Wikis, however, may be quite the opposite. What I have seen, however, in past attempts to use Wikis for law is that they haven’t worked because of lack of participation. A friend of mine tried to create a Wiki of Minnesota law and couldn’t get anyone to post to it.”

That is very much the challenge that many innovaters and pioneers within firms will face. Showing that we can do something is only part of the effort. Effectively leading our colleagues to then do it is the next stage. That needs us to understand what is motivating us and how can we best discern what might motivate them.

Any ideas?



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3 responses to “What’s My Motivation Here?

  1. There’s a huge amount of advice on internal use of social media from Headshift

    “[hmmm, how do I bullet point in WordPress?]”

    In the wysiwyg Post editor there’s a nice little button with bullet points on it.

  2. Thanks Nick for the pointer to the brilliant resource over at http://www.Headshift.com/blog and also for getting me to switch from the HTML to the visual wordpress editor.

  3. Pingback: Boomshine as a Metaphor for Innovation « Lawyer1point9

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